Hallowtide, Hallowmas, whatever you like to call this three day span—Hallowe'en, All Saints, and All Souls—is upon us. While it's not my favorite liturgical season, that title being too close to call between Advent and Holy Week, I also particularly enjoy celebrating Hallowtide: We baked soul cakes (doughnuts) this afternoon to eat for breakfast tomorrow, Little Bear and Kit had fun at the Catholic Homeschoolers' All Saints party yesterday afternoon, and I love kicking off this month focused on the Communion of Saints with a chorus of For All The Saints on Hallowe'en evening, the traditional verses stuffed with references to our role here on earth as the Church Militant: "Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight," "fight as the saints who nobly fought of old," "when the strife is fierce, the warfare long / steals on the ear the distant triumph song," etc. Love that hymn!
And of course, there's the costumes. I love dressing up, always have, and was excited that having kids gave me an "excuse" to wear costumes for Hallowmas again. So far, though, Little Bear seems to have inherited his father's... lack of interest, shall we say, in dressing up. He did not want to wear a costume at the party yesterday, even though all of the other kids were costumed as well. Kit didn't even notice that she was wearing a costume, of course; hopefully she grows up to like them! Dressing as saints for All Saints parties wasn't really something I did until college, but a second reason for costumes in as many days, and a tactile way to have fun learning about saints? Sign me up!
For the All Saints party, Little Bear was St Juan Diego and Kit was Bl Monica Naisen, a martyr from Japan who was executed in 1629 for hiding a priest from the government's persecution. Little Bear's costume came together more easily than I expected: I cut one of Matt's old t-shirts down for the tilma, printed off a coloring page of Our Lady of Guadalupe, put it between the layers of the shirt, and used the lines as guides for the fabric paint.
Kit's costume was easy, a hand-me-down kimono from one of Matt's coworker's daughters. I had such fun getting their costumes together, and seeing all of the other kids dressed up!
Kit's idea of fun at the party was getting passed around between the other moms and older girls, and eventually falling asleep on someone else's shoulder while I was helping Little Bear decorate cookies in "St Elizabeth's Kitchen." They do such a good job of pulling together this party every year, and all of the kids had fun with games like "St Christopher's relay race," "walking the narrow path" along a balance beam, and rolling pumpkins in "St Isidore's pumpkin patch." The pumpkin-rolling was probably Little Bear's favorite; he wanted to do it all by himself, and got three of his five little pumpkins into the "goal."
I got a text this morning from my sister, a photo of easily a hundred doughnuts laid out in rows on the counter. "Have you made your soulcakes yet?" Little Bear thought that making doughnuts was an excellent idea, of course. Matt was by no means opposed to eating doughnuts, but wanted to know why, so we looked it up.
Modern doughnuts evolved from soul cakes, small sweet cakes that have been given out at Hallowtide for centuries to children and beggars who would go door-to-door singing some variation on this rhyme: "A soul cake, a soul cake, have mercy on all Christian souls for a soul cake," promising to pray for the repose of the souls of the family's dead in thanks for the cake. From what I read, giving out soul cakes during Hallowtide was still common practice in some places less than 100 years ago. According to one legend, the doughnut shape with the hole in the middle was created to remind those singing for (and eating) soul cakes of eternity: a circle without a beginning or end, reminding us that those who have died are not gone.
So of course, I decided to make some. The only recipe I could find that didn't involve frying them *or* baking in special doughnut pans was this potato doughnut recipe from Taste of Home. I made it by hand instead of using a bread machine, and halved the recipe just in case it didn't work out well, but they came out fine! A little funny looking, which might have been avoidable if I'd used a real doughnut cutter instead of a canning jar lid and a knife, but they taste great. Frosting would have given them a smoother appearance, too, but after tasting one we decided that we liked the flavor and didn't want to drown them in frosting, so while they were still warm I just rubbed a little butter on the tops and sprinkled on a bit of granulated sugar.
Tonight Little Bear went trick-or-treating with some of my siblings, dressed as a baker in his youngest aunt's apron and poofy hat. Several of the houses they usually stop at didn't have anyone home tonight, so the bigger kids were disappointed, but Little Bear was pretty excited that there were people at four of the places they stopped, and they all gave him candy!
It was chilly enough (about 12 degrees F) that they didn't really mind coming back early. It's certainly not over-cold for this time of year—my dad was telling Matt and me about a Hallowe'en he remembers from when I was little that was -30 F!—but this weather still feels cold when it's the first time we've gotten even this low so far this winter. Once we hit -20 for the first time, coming back up above 0 will feel lovely again. Since we were all chilly tonight, though, and since the clocks turn back tonight so bedtime could be a little more flexible, Little Bear got to help Matt lay the fire before going to bed.
A happy very-nearly-All Saints Day to you! For more quick takes, head on over to This Ain't The Lyceum.